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Need help picking a place for date night

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It's short(er) notice, but my husband and I are able to ditch the baby for a Saturday night and have a real NYC night to ourselves for the first time in a while. I am choosing between the following, which I can still get reservations for:

A Voce (probably Columbus)
BLT Steak
Boulud Sud
Collichio & Sons
Daniel (in the Lounge at 10:15)
Four Seasons
Mailino (at 10pm)
La Grenouille (at 10pm)
The Lion
Marble Lane
Ouest
Valbella

You can see the options are eclectic. I just want good food, I don't care about the cuisine or the neighborhood. I would prefer to eat at around 8:30, but some of the reservations are for around 10pm, which is fine I guess.

We are also open to sitting at the bar at restaurants that don't have tables open - any suggestions for that? (I've never been to Degustation, WD-50, Little Owl, Minetta Tavern, Blue Hill, etc - are those places "no reservations/ bar eating friendly"?)

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  1. Some of them are bar eating friendly, yes - I actually prefer dining at the bar at WD-50. But on a Saturday night there might be a bit of a wait for one of those few bar tables, or two seats at the bar proper. Minetta - I wouldn't even bother. I was there recently on, like, a Wednesday, and the bar was mobbed from the moment they opened.

    Of the main list, if you just want good food, you can probably cross off The Lion (one star from NYT, zero stars from NY Mag, most other critics on the same page...) and Marble Lane. Also the Four Seasons - the food isn't BAD, at least not in a vacuum - but it's bad for their price point. They're staggeringly overpriced, really just a place for power lunches and Park Avenue types who don't know from food. Crabcakes with Mustard Sauce should not cost $55. Even if Eric Ripert were making them.

    BLT Steak I'd also skip. While they're fine, we have better steakhouses.

    Otherwise, not a bad list of options. I'm not terribly excited by La Grenouille - I find them overpriced as well, if not as egregiously as TFS. For me, though, once you hit the near-$100 prix fixe range (really over that given that a number of menu options have supplements) I need something more than just well-rendered warhorses. I need to see some creativity on the plate. But they have their adorers to be sure, and for well-rendered warhorses they're arguably one of the best in town.

    And, just to confuse matters further, I'm seeing some other options on opentable.com for this Saturday - actually a surprising number of open tables this close to the weekend. Cafe Boulud (better than the pricer Daniel by a mile, IMHO, and as of this writing they have a slightly earlier table too), Aquavit, Corton, and the newly-improved Monkey Bar jump out from the list, just off the top of my head...

    Anyway - of the original list I like C&S, Maialino and Boulud Sud the best probably. Of the no-rez group, WD-50 to be sure.

    -----
    WD-50
    50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

    Aquavit
    65 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

    Cafe Boulud
    20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

    BLT Steak
    106 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022

    La Grenouille
    3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

    Monkey Bar
    60 E 54th St, New York, NY 10022

    The Four Seasons
    99 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

    Corton
    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

    Maialino
    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

    Colicchio & Sons
    85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

    The Lion
    62 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011

    Boulud Sud
    20 W 64th St, New York, NY 10023

    Marble Lane
    355 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011

    2 Replies
    1. re: sgordon

      Thanks SGordon! I have such a long list of restaurants to try. I so wish I could eat out every night but (a) I love to cook and (b) I would just get so fat! It's hard working in Newark and living in Brooklyn too...

      I've been to Aquavit so definitely want to try something new. I put in a resey at Boulud Sud, but I'll leave it the the hubby (a non-foodie) if he'd rather do that or try WD-50.

      I'm curious to know why you say to skip Marble Lane.

      1. re: secondbecky

        Marble Lane: reviews have been rather underwhelming.

    2. I don't know how important ambiance is for you, but Boulud Sud is not very romantic - it's so busy and bright! I've read reviews that liken the decor to an airport lounge and I think that's exactly right. Though the food is great, mind you.

      The ambiance didn't bother me so much when I was there, but perhaps it would have if I didn't live in Manhattan and didn't get out with my husband often.

      Just something to think about.